Is Agile Project Management Suitable For Marketing Teams?

In the era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA), marketers are trying new ways to outperform their competition. To maximise use of scarce resources, an aspect that seems to be of interest is project management. One methodology that has been gaining popularity in recent years is ‘Agile’.

Source: Google Trends
Source: Google Trends

The term came about back in 2001, when a group of software developers met at a resort in Utah to discuss lightweight development methods. The outcome of this meeting is the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

Adopting Agile may involve company-wide changes. Thus, it’s important to first evaluate whether Agile is suitable for your organisation or the business.

A Typical Project Scenario

Traditionally, corporations practice what we call the ‘Waterfall’ methodology. As the concept is adopted from the construction industry, Waterfall is a sequential process with clearly-defined stages.

Using an online ad campaign as an example, the marketing team defines campaign scope and objectives during the planning stage.

Then, the creative team works on the ad visuals and copy based on the established scope and requirements. After several rounds of internal revisions, the ad is approved and the project goes into the implementation stage.

The ad goes live after the technical team uploads the assets and sets the ad budget and duration. Finally, at the end of the campaign, the team tabulates the results for post-mortem and project closure.

The Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Waterfall Method

As a structured approach, Waterfall is great for a few reasons:

  • Clear direction from the beginning of the project.
  • Documentation helps reduce the learning curve for new project team members.
  • Implementation teams are clear about different team’s responsibilities and project requirements.

There are a few major weaknesses teams need to be aware of:

  • Changing direction along the way is difficult, if not impossible.
  • The method excludes the client from the creative process.
  • The process delays testing until the end when the project is almost completed.

By the time it reaches the client, and it’s not what they want, you risk delaying the project and incurring losses on both sides.

What Is Agile Project Management?

Agile VS Waterfall

Contrary to what you might think, Agile does not imply that projects lack structure. Instead, it breaks down structure into ‘digestible bits’, emphasises on collaboration, and promotes continuous improvements throughout the project.

A unique characteristic of an Agile project is the lack of documentation. Most organisations are initially uncomfortable with this idea. Yet, many have adopted Agile once they realise that the benefits outweigh the costs.

A popular Agile framework for managing work is known as ‘Scrum’. Scrum breaks down work into fortnightly or monthly ‘sprints’. The scope of work for each sprint is determined at the beginning of the sprint. This allows teams to change direction in the following month if external factors call for it.

You won’t find 2-hour long meetings here. Instead, teams track progress and re-plan in short, daily stand-up meetings called ‘daily scrums’. During these meetings, each team member answers 3 questions related to their contributions to the team’s sprint:

  • What did I complete yesterday?
  • What do I plan to do today?
  • What challenges would stand in my way?

How Can Agile Help In Marketing And Public Relations?

Benefits of Agile include:

  • Transparency and visibility
  • Early delivery and continuous improvements
  • More predictable costs and schedule
  • Adaptation to external and internal changes
  • Active user involvement

What Should My Company Do Before Adopting Agile?

Although there are shared characteristics, remember that every Agile implementation will differ from company to company. For some companies, a paradigm shift has to take place before they can effectively adopt Agile at the workplace. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what you can do to prepare for Agile implementation.

  • Embrace daily instead of weekly updates
  • Be comfortable with “always-in-beta” products
  • Create an environment for failure
  • Encourage an open workplace

Is Agile The Best Choice For My Company?

Bear in mind that some aspects of Agile may not be suitable for marketing and public relations. The same goes for Scrum.

Another interesting framework you could consider is ‘Kanban’. To enjoy the best of both worlds, some organisations combine both frameworks into ‘Scrumban’.

Whatever your choice may be, we hope this article helped you gain a better perspective on Agile and the benefits you stand to reap.

At Pat-Lin Communications, we have implemented Agile for our digital and content marketing teams. For media and public relations, we have adopted best practices that contribute to a more open and dynamic workplace.

Speak with us to find out how Pat-Lin Communications can add value to your marketing and corporate communications teams.